04 July 15 –
CAMP MARECHAL DE LATTRE DE TASSIGNY, Kosovo – First Combined Arms Battalion, 252nd Armor Regiment Alpha Company, a North Carolina National Guard unit out of Fayetteville, North Carolina, assumed responsibility for the Multinational Battle Group-East Forward Command Post during a July 4 transition of authority ceremony at Camp Marechal de Lattre De Tassigny, or CMLT, in Kosovo.
The MNBG-E Forward Command Post is made up of multinational elements that serve as part of the NATO peace support operation known as Kosovo Force, or KFOR. The ceremony marked the U.S. Army’s 20th rotation of Soldiers to support KFOR since the late 1990s.
“We will be the 20th rotation for the Kosovo Force peacekeeping mission,” said Lt. Col. William J. Gray, the incoming FCP commander. “The soldiers have trained alongside several multinational military and police forces in Germany to prepare for this mission here in Kosovo.”
“Our main mission is to provide a safe and secure environment and keep freedom of movement throughout Kosovo,” he said.
On behalf of the outgoing FCP, Lt. Col. Mark D. Federovich said the best part of the deployment was working with their multinational partners. Federovich commands 1st Squadron (Airborne), 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, an airborne unit out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
“It was a new deployment with a new experience of training that our Soldiers don’t normally encounter. It’s been particularly good to work with the multinationals here and see how to deal with the differences in culture and language,” he said. “CMLT has been good to us.”
The incoming battalion headquarters, 1-252 Armor Regiment, along with its Alpha Company which now serves within the FCP, conducted several weeks of training at Fort Bliss, Texas, and the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany. During these training rotations, the Army National Guard Soldiers refined their tactical skills, studied the history and culture of Kosovo, and rehearsed their techniques and responsibilities in the event that a violent demonstration could threaten safety and security in Kosovo.
“We’ve been focusing on KFOR tasks such as crowd and riot control,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Charles S. Sanders, the 1-252 Armor Regiment’s senior noncommissioned officer.
There are also a lot of political factors that play a role here in this mission too, Sanders said, emphasizing the importance of peaceful communication and multinational teamwork throughout his Soldiers’ deployment, which is expected to last approximately nine months.
Through that time, the 1-252 Armor Regiment headquarters and its Archangels from Alpha Company will be joined by several multinational partners. MNBG-E includes troops from Armenia, Hungary, Romania and Hungary, among others. These soldiers will work, train, and live alongside one another in order to fulfill NATO commitments and support civil authorities in maintaining a safe and secure environment throughout Kosovo.